Why Your Dental Practice is More Expensive Than Mine

By Phil / April 23rd, 2013

Why is dentistry so expensive? Well, here’s something to think about.

Let’s say I need small fillings in 3 separate teeth. And to keep the maths simple, they cost £100 each.

In a normal dentist (like yours) here what happens;

Dentists are trained at dental school to look into the mouth, evaluate the worst thing, and fix it.

This is known as “tooth by tooth” dentistry, and this is also the reason you sometimes see people with a mishmash of dentally treated teeth that don’t match.

Appointment 1.

The dentist does one filling, and says “you have two other areas of concern but we’ll just put a watch on those for now”

Payment is £100 and I’m relieved it didn’t cost too much. Also I’m reassured as the other two areas are now under observation.

Now, the dentist has noticed the other two but he does not want to overwhelm me, and anyway he doesn’t have the time to do all 3 in the allotted appointment.

I often find that dentists are (you might be surprised to hear) actually very kind people. They don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, and so they can often “talk down” the urgency or seriousness of dental work that is needed. Many people love their dentists because they do the minimum dentistry. However, in this scenario the dentist has made decisions for me which might cost me in the long-run.

So, I go away for 6 months and then come back for another appointment.

Appoinment 2.

As you would expect, the dentist finds the two areas of decay have grown a little, and require larger fillings. So he treats the worst one, and tells me “I will need another little filling but it’s nothing to worry about.”

Payment is £200 as it was a larger filling. And I’m a bit surprised by this when I get to the check-out.

I make an appointment for a couple of months time.

Appointment 3.

I cancel this appointment as I’m going to be on holiday, and so I’m a bit short this month and anyway he said “there’s nothing to worry about” and so another few months pass until my next appointment.

Appointment 4.

By this time (unbeknown to me) the last tooth has got quite a bit worse and needs (let’s say best case) a large filling, but it could easily be a crown or root treatment. The dentist fills the tooth.

Payment is (best case) £300 which I really grudge, and so I don’t make another appointment for now.

There are 2 important things to remember here;

  • There has never been a documented case where dental decay did not get worse over time.
  • Tooth decay is painless – until it gets to the nerve deep inside the tooth.

So, what has happened here is the following;

  • I have just spent £100 + £200 + £300 = £600 which is twice as much as if I had had all 3 fillings done immediately.
  • I have also lost quite a bit more healthy tooth than I had to.
  • I don’t trust my dentist. Every time I go, he finds something, and it costs me more and more every visit.

I hope you can see that this scenario, although simplified, would happen in a dental practice where the dentist does not do a comprehensive treatment plan, and diagnose ALL the dentistry that is needed. It’s not necessarily the dentist’s fault – it’s just the system is not set up that way.

To diagnose everything takes time, and to work in a way that dentists in the UK are not used to.

The dentist may need time to sit down and think and plan to come up with the best options.

And it takes time for the patient (maybe you) to have explained what is going on in your mouth, and so you understand the treatment options, and what might happen if you don’t go ahead. Which is fine – just as long as you know.

Compare the above scenario with my dentist, Cherrybank Dental Spa – see Cherrybank consultation.

We welcome your thoughts or comments on this topic below.

By Steve Philip, Business Development Director at Cherrybank Dental Spa for 5 years, and patient for 18 years.

Last updated May 2nd, 2018